Best Gift Books – Our Staff Picks:

Best Gift Books - Our Staff Picks: We're having trouble resisting a good old-fashioned book-buying spree. But this time with loved ones in mind.

With snow on the ground outside our offices and gift-giving guides and the latest issue of Atlantic Books Today all over the region, we’re having trouble resisting a good old-fashioned book-buying spree. But this time with loved ones in mind.

Nothing is more satisfying than finding someone a book so perfect it’s like it was written just for them. But, apparently Friday is a work day. Who knew? So, the shopping spree will have to wait. Instead, we’ll scratch the itch with a list of the books we most recommend as holiday gifts:


Disposable Souls by Phonse Jessome.

The Scoop: Perfectly blends gritty mystery and local fiction, it’s a can’t-put-it-down whodunnit. Like all great detective novels the main character has his flaws, but he’s the guy you want on your side of an issue. The local setting will make you want to hit the sites of every scene in the book looking for clues the characters might’ve missed.

Who’s it for: Mystery lovers, biker fans, and those gestalt types fascinated by the blurred line between good and bad characters.

All the Things We Leave Behind by Riel Nason.

The Scoop: This novel is a character study, and it is about a time and a place, such that Central New Brunswick in the 70s and 80s is as much a character as the protagonist and her suffering family. Nason keeps readers guessing as to the fate of Violet’s missing brother, and we will too. But it’s a beautiful ride.

Who’s it for: If someone on your shopping list came of age in the 70s and 80s in Atlantic Canada, this one will really resonate.

Field Notes by Sara Jewell.

The Scoop: “There’s a river in Cumberland County, NS that I have a particular fondness for so when it is mentioned early in the book I was hooked – especially when Jewell talks about it the way my mother does.” So says Carolyn Guy, the publisher of Atlantic Books Today. These columns are about what it is like to live in a place where you feel a sense of belonging, what is means to lose a friend, what special times with friends and family mean and how important place is to our psyche.

Who’s it for: Someone you have a place in common with.

A Woman’s Almanac: Voices from Newfoundland and Labrador by the St. John’s Status of Women Council.

The Scoop: As freelancer Dee Dooley said in her recent essay for Atlantic Books Today, “less value is attributed to women’s storytelling as a form of knowledge production. Publications like A Woman’s Almanac, that celebrate the stories of diverse local women, become vitally important.”

Who’s it for: As a gift it is both a celebration of the accomplishments of women and a handy dandy day planner. Particularly useful for the students in your life (male and female … the b’ys need to to hear these stories too).

Queen of the Crows by Harmony Wagner.

The Scoop: There’s a perspective here on not only mental illness but the way we are and choose to be in the world that expands normal, that gently questions in a way to include, to empathize and hold compassion for those who struggle and suffer but recognizes that experiencing the world differently from others should not necessarily be a cause of suffering. It’s beautifully complex, and young readers can handle it.

Who’s it for: Young people of course, but also anyone in your life who works with young people. Know any teachers, nurses or social workers?

Gold by George Elliott Clarke.

The Scoop: The title could be mistaken for a self-proclaiming vanity statement, but in fact it is the opposite, tipping us off to the sly mocking of the author’s Canlit celebrity status and to the deceptive glitter of its subject matter. This is Clarke at his most playful and he provokes profoundly, as a good trickster should.

Who’s it for: Language lovers and amateur sociologists. The one in the family who says outrageous things at the family reunion and only later does everyone realize they were right.

Did You Just Call Me Old Lady? A 90-Year-Old Tells Why Aging is Positive by Lillian Zimmerman.

The Scoop: Our society – driven by longer lifespans and big baby boom bubble – is gettin’ old. This thought scares some people Not Lillian Zimmerman. She’s just sick of the ageism and all the stereotypes about “long-livers.”

Who’s it for: It’s not just for those who have lived long, but also those who intend to. We’re all getting older, and most of us over the age of 35 think about it too much. This book is full of insights about the road ahead and the fact that social equity includes respect for the elderly, and that includes proper governance, management and policy for this demographic.

The Snow Knows by Jennifer McGrath with illustrations by Josée Bisaillon.

The Scoop: It’s like holding an art exhibit in your hands. Yeah, it’s for kids – and the reinvention of hide-and-seek makes for a story the kids on your list will love – but Bisaillon’s picture work deserves your rapt attention long after the little ones have reached the REM state.

Who’s it for: Me! I mean, children. The children on your list. All of them. But their parents will love the art.

No More Junk Food by Wendy McCallum.

The Scoop: “Parenthood is a never-ending war against junk food. It seeps its way through cracks and crannies and into your house.” My wife spake these articulations; she’s a 21st-century truth-speaking prohet. She also said that cookbooks are as much about inspiration as they are about recipes. To see that it can be done, that the war against junk can be won.

Who’s it for: Parents of little sugar suckers and salt lickers / junk food junkies / aspiring cooks.

For more great gift ideas, read our Book Lovers’ Holiday Gift Guide.



Written By

Chris Benjamin is the managing editor of Atlantic Books Today. He is also the author of Boy With A Problem; Indian School Road; Eco-Innovators and Drive-by Saviours; as well as several short stories in anthologies and journals.

More from Chris Benjamin

Atlantic Canadian writers make good in CBC’s short story contest

“I spent so many years working in obscurity, like a lot of...
Read More
[ajax_load_more container_type="div" css_classes="post-item-inner entry-image inview entry-image-inner image-tint entry-details entry-header" post_type="post" sticky_posts="true" posts_per_page="3" post_format="standard" category="news,features,reviews,excerpts,columns" category__not_in="8,3116,3117,3111,3113,1269,1573,1269,1573,1225,1406,1866,845,950,620,447,36,23,42,1634,2026,2116,2803,2802,3092,3115,1394,770,389,22,505,41,9,7,38,1889,1,37" pause="true" transition_container="false" destroy_after="5" button_label="load more" button_loading_label="loading..." category=""]

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *